Wild Nothing – Life of Pause
When you hit the ball out of the park on your musical debut and sophomore album, I imagine its somewhat of a daunting task to try and create something that will repeat your success and move into different musical territory. Whether or not this was on Jack Tatums mind when he was working on his third full-length record remains to be known. Regardless, Life of Pause strikes a balance musically between the straightforward dream pop of Gemini and the well-orchestrated synth heavy pop of Nocturne.
Reichpop, begins the album in classic Wild Nothing fashionboiling electronic elements create the undercurrent of the instrumentation as the song heats up. About a minute and a half of build up later, the song coming into itself, the guitars and bass join the mix, adding their lush influence to the simmering track. This song in its easy and steady coolness sets the tone for the rest of the album.
The key to understanding this record comes in the title track, which marks the center point of your listening journey. Synths soar and bubble into the groovy beat, Tatum sings repeatedly at the crux of the chorus, How can we want love? and the synths stutter coldly in the background as he questions human desire for affection honestly and openly. Herein lies the detached emotion that the entire album is entrenched in. On the first few listens, its easy to mistake this for a lack of emotional accessibility, but upon further investigation, Tatum comes through quite vulnerably as searching for something and narrowly skirting jadedness. This is where Ive found the album to be quite raw and not the icy-cool sleek collection of eleven tracks that it may sound like at first.
While the album becomes more accessible with this in mind, the vulnerability is still subtle, hidden under those loud synths and danceable 70s grooves. Life of Pause has immediate hits that will grab you upfront, but there are some slow burning gems that take a bit of time for you to gravitate towards, like Lady Blue, which ends in a switch in rhythm that is simply impossible not to turn up loud and jam out to. Of course there are those reach out tracks like TV Queen and To Know You, that are wonderful examples of Tatums skills at crafting solid tunes that bridge the gap between dream and synth pop.
At the end of Life of Pause, theres a bit of a longing for more; while theres no denying the artful skill that Jack Tatum has poured into the record, you sort of wish that there was more of a fire within the tracks on here. Still a remarkable and worthwhile listen nonetheless.